Flowers in the garden

Mid-Michigan is still experiencing chilly days even though our Spring flowers are blooming.  Today it is only in the 40’s, and we are expecting rain.  My garden is producing a spectacular display of flowers this year, perhaps because it is aging.

We moved to this home ten years ago this coming Fall.  Just saying that sentence is difficult for me to believe, as the time has passed so quickly.  However, when I walk about my yard and garden, it is easy to understand.  So many of the very small plants that I planted in 2008, 2009, and 2010 are growing into loving blooming shrubs, colorful ground covers, classic plantings and interesting additions to my surroundings.

Each one has a story, came from a certain plant nursery, plant sale or a new Michigan friend. I even have a tree from a friend from West Virginia who visited me and brought me a sapling the first Winter.  I remember being hesitant to even put it into the ground, but it is growing into a lovely Japanese Maple today. I received seeds from other WV friends and those flowers have grown into beautiful plants as well.  Some of my plants I have lost along the way, but somehow others have crept in to cover up the open spots.

I often say that I have a Spring garden because I like my garden the best this time of year. I have many plants, shrubs and bulbs that bloom and flower throughout the Summer and Fall, but it is the Spring season that makes me the happiest.  Coming through a cold Winter and realizing that the perennials with a story will be back to greet me just makes gardening all worthwhile.

One of my favorite ground covers has to be Lily of the Valley.  I took a clump from my mother’s garden in 2009 and placed it in a featured spot near my front entrance, that is now filled with my bridal bouquet flower every Spring. The entire bed is almost completed covered in Lily of the Valley.  It has woven around the Virginia bluebells, the varying sized hosta, the lirope, and the English ivy. My blue periwinkle is a sea of blue around the front perimeter of my property. I planted a few small clumps here and there and somehow it became a lovely border.

My herbs are growing and my fenced garden has been cleaned and cleared from the winter leaf cover.  Now to make my planting list for the summer patch of edibles.

Here are some photos of my flowering trees and shrubs, along with other Spring plants in bloom. I did not plant my garden to be a showcase, so don’t look for anything spectacular. This is just a garden where I have learned to understand the beauty of the seasons. And I appreciate the smallest and the most delicate plants, hoping to see them again every Spring.

drying summer flowers

Not only do I enjoy my summer garden while it is in bloom, but I usually try to save some of the flowers of the season.  I simply use my garage greenhouse and old sheet pans.  I put out flowers from summer floral arrangements and also from my garden throughout the season. I allow them to dry on their own without using any products.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I seem to have better success with certain types of flowers, but even those that don’t seem to look as good as the others, still have significance to me.  I use them in my fall arrangements on wreaths or outdoors in baskets on my porch or deck. Every year I have a new supply and don’t worry about keeping them longer than that.  Such fun for me to have flowers of the summer throughout the Fall and sometimes for Spring arrangements too.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

 

 

Flowers in Chicago

So during my Chicago visit, I could not help but to really take notice and appreciate the lovely street flowers along the Magnificent Mile. The floral and landscape designs were well planned and diverse along the road. They were not only planted nicely, but very well maintained which impressed me for a big city.  Chicago is doing something right.

The designed beds incorporated art, color, texture, and imagination. The flowers were healthy and for well-traveled streets with lots of traffic and pedestrian movement, the beds were nearly perfect.  Here are some of my favorite beds along the way.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES   SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Up North flowers

Each summer when we travel up North, I am always delighted to admire the lovely window boxes and street flowers that fill the shopping districts of the Northern Michigan towns.  Here are some of my favorite flower boxes — but, realize that there were so many more that were equally beautiful.


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

 

IMG_3499 IMG_3511 IMG_3503 IMG_3492 IMG_3486 IMG_3455

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

The flowers were beautiful again this year, with the cooler temperatures still intact.  This past week, the daily highs were in the 60’s.  Cool lake breezes made the temperatures perfectly ideal for walking, relaxing and shopping the area. And, summer flower boxes make the day so much fun for me.

 

 

summer window boxes

Last weekend, for Memorial Day, I prepared and planted my deck window boxes.  I usually give the wicker boxes a coat of fresh paint, and then fill and plant them.  Since they are made of wicker, I usually do not fill the entire box with potting soil, as it would be too heavy and is not required for root development of annual plants.  For non-gardeners, you might notice that roots of annuals never seem to grow very deep, since they are basically disposed of seasonally.  So, having about 2-3 inches of soil for annuals, is more than adequate for a summer of growth.

I usually like to fill the base of my wicker planter with lightweight material, such as recyclable foam peanuts.  I place plastic over the peanuts to protect them from the soil.  It makes for a much easier clean-up in September.  Others use light weight wire or even cardboard to fill the dead space.  Then, I place my soil on top of the plastic, which also allows for the plants to be a higher level in the planter, allowing for easy cascading of the spiller plantings.

I like to choose a flowering plant, along with a couple of plants which will fill and spill over the sides of the wicker box.  I have used many combinations over the years, and always seem to be happy with my choices. This year I chose a compact white Lofos for my white flowering plant, and stock for my tall focal point.  My deck has sunlight for part of the day, and some later afternoon shade.  Be sure to choose the right plant for the right sunlight exposure.

I also like to top the soil with some moss to prevent soil splashing when watering.  A little bit goes a long way, and gives a finished look to the planter.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I always enjoy seeing the pretty window boxes when I travel to Northern Michigan and love having them at my house as well.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My garden will be awake soon

I can’t wait until Spring.  Today we had some sunshine and blue skies.  Even though the outdoor temperature was only 22 F this afternoon,  the sky looked spectacular.  I gazed out my window at my snow-filled picket fence garden and continued to dream about warmer days.

March is a good time of year to review what gardening tools need to be replaced, and which ones should just be cleaned and organized.  It is still too cold for me to be cleaning off my garden bench, but taking an assessment of what should be replaced has been completed. I also spend time looking through my photos of last years’ garden during the Spring months. Here are a couple of photos of my garden in early Spring from 2014.

IMG_9161

Over recent years, garden hose technology has advanced. Last year, I remember being sprayed by the leaking hose, having wet socks and garden clogs, or trying to turn it off with frustration.  So, I am replacing my hose this year.  I found this 150 foot expandable Gorilla hose and it arrived earlier this week.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

First of all, it feels like a quality product.  It is lightweight with brass connections.  One end of the hose has a stopcock, which will allow me to fill my watering cans and turn off the water in one turn. This is just what I need as I like to use a hose sometimes, but often prefer a watering can for certain tender perennials. I like the ability to direct the water around my flowers. The hose length is longer than any other hose I have ever owned.  As the black fabric cover expands, it stretches as the water fills the hose. The hose has a double layer latex core. I placed this hose on my garden hose cart, and noticed immediately that it takes up less space than my old green garden hose. The design is well thought out and manufactured.  The hose already has several five star online recommendations, so I know this is the one for my garden. I am looking forward to using a hose that will not kink, leak or tangle this growing season.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

IMG_9177

For more information about the 150 foot Gorilla hose, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R59MIAE/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Garden seeds –a review


The seed catalogs have been arriving at my home for the past few weeks, and the excitement of having new plants and seeds for the Spring has begun.  The miracle of seed germination includes both hope and dreams for a beautiful flower or vegetable plant. I don’t collect many seeds from my own plants, as the harvesting and storing process can be tricky.

Also, I most often purchase new seeds every year as my garden design changes.  Most seeds can be stored for at least one year, as long as proper storage conditions are in place.  A frequent cause of lost seed viability is fluctuation in temperature.  The refrigerator is the best place to store garden seeds in wait. Moisture is also a problem for seed storage.  Seeds will begin to germinate when moistened.  It is best to store them in a glass jar or sealed container.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This past week, I was asked to review some garden seeds for gift enclosures.  The seeds are nicely packaged with cute messages for gift giving.  I was impressed with these seeds as they are certified organic non-GMO seeds.  Within this set are 10 packages of flower seeds, which include Zinnias and Delphinium in a nice flower mix.

These seeds can be sown directly outdoors in the Spring or Summer depending on the garden zone.   What a nice little gift to include in a greeting card for an upcoming special day or birthday. This is a very nice product.

For more information on Seeds of Love, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QRWQUP4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1